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Galloway brings Zapatista to book

Duncan Campbell | 23.12.2004 18:04 | Zapatista

Both are high-profile, left-wing mavericks famous for their political theatricality, snappy style and taste in fine tobacco. Now a publishing venture brings them together for the first time.

Taken from The Guardian
Thursday December 23, 2004

The two are George Galloway, the Glasgow Kelvin MP who is still celebrating his £150,000 libel victory over the Daily Telegraph, and Subcomandante Marcos, leader of the Zapatista guerrilla movement in Mexico. What has brought them together is a publishing house called Friction which Mr Galloway is starting in the new year.

The first author to be signed is the Mexican crime writer Paco Ignacio Taibo, who is writing a weekly newspaper serial with Subcomandante Marcos, or "El Sub", as the charismatic Zapatista is known. Negotiations to secure the joint work are at an advanced stage, according to Mr Galloway's partner in the venture, the Scottish journalist Ron McKay.

Friction, which will be based in Glasgow and London, will be partly funded by Mr Galloway's libel winnings. It will publish all eight of Taibo's crime novels featuring the Mexico City private eye Hector Belascoaran Shayne.

The fictional detective is the main character in the current novel, which is titled Muertos Incomodos (The Awkward Dead) and is being co-written by Subcomandante Marcos and Taibo, and published in a Mexican newspaper. Friction - motto, "books that burn" - hopes the completed novel will be one of its first publications.

"Taibo is a legend in Latin America and the Spanish-speaking world but he has never been published in this country," Mr McKay said. "Shayne, the protagonist of his crime thrillers, is a unique creation. But not only does Taibo tell a marvellous tale, in exquisite language, there is a political dynamic in his work which must be unique in the genre."

Mr Galloway described Shayne yesterday as "an edgy radical detective, a Philip Marlowe character walking on the left side of the road".

Subcomandante Marcos, who has led a long-running campaign for the rights of impoverished Mexicans, is famously anonymous. He wears a balaclava helmet which, he once said, he could not remove because it would be unfair on other men in Mexico to reveal his dashing good looks. He also traditionally smokes a small pipe.

Mr Galloway, who acquired the nickname "Gorgeous George" because of his stylish suits and Havana cigars, is awaiting news of whether the Daily Telegraph will go ahead with its appeal against his libel victory.

Duncan Campbell